Through the first five games of the NFL season, the New England Patriots defense was able to force just two turnovers — playing a hand in the second-worst turnover differential in football.
Safety Jabrill Peppers knew that needed to change and made it happen.
A week after delivering a crushing blow in Las Vegas that resulted in an interception, Peppers wasted little time making an impact against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. On Josh Allen’s first pass of the game, the quarterback never saw Peppers undercut a route and be there to intercept his pass.
“That was a play I recognized on tape,” Peppers explained. “Just had to play the proper technique and catch the ball. I was happy I could get the team going a little bit.”
The play was familiar for Peppers and the New England defense as the Bills used a similar play against them last season. The Patriots expected it again this year and practiced against such look during the week, with the dividends paying off in just one play.
“We got hit on that play against them last year,” Bill Belichick explained after the victory. “Worked on it in practice and he played it well. made a nice play to go up and highpoint the ball.”
Beyond the early interception, which New England capitalized on with an offensive touchdown, Peppers also led the team with nine total tackles. In addition to his impact plays, his leadership and notable physicality have made him an ideal fit in the Patriots’ defense.
“Pep... a little bit of a psychopath,” David Andrews joked postgame. “He screams a lot. He’s from [New] Jersey, I don't understand half the stuff he says — he’s just screaming. ... But, Pep’s been a great addition to our lock room. He plays the game the right way. He plays it tough, he plays it physical. Appreciate having a guy like that in our locker room.”
“That's actually a good compliment,” Peppers responded with a smile. “I think you got to be a little off to play football anyway — in a good way. I just try to be as crazy energetic as I can. And it’s not that I’m a psychopath, I’m just more wiling to run into a grown man at full speed than a lot of guys are.”